News - August 16, 2012

Home from home

Wageningen is filling up again with new students wanting to turn their rooms into a home from home. On a shoestring. Particularly difficult if you have come from another continent and could not bring much stuff from home. How do international students go about creating a place of their own?

'I try to understand my plants'
Daniel (Yu) Huang from China, studying Plant Sciences and living at Hoevenstein.
'I have a thing about flower arrangements. What I find especially beautiful is the way different plants can grow together in the same pot. Before I came here to study I did a course on flowers in Aalsmeer at one of the best institutes in the west for this subject. After I graduate I want to go to Japan to learn their characteristic minimalist style.
I feel incredibly at home in my room. Our house in China is full of animals and plants. I brought that style here with me, but I found most of the materials here. I get my plants from the woods or from a garden centre. I got one of them from botanical gardens in Utrecht andI brought some seeds with me from China. Maybe that's against the rules, but I know what I am doing. I have to destroy those plants when I leave.
I don't have any favourite plants, but I always look for the best place for every plant, where it gets the right amount of sun and the right food. All my plants are very healthy. I am not just a plant scientist; I see myself as a plant artist as well. I want them to look more beautiful and I try to understand them better so that they will be happier.  I still remember my first flower. I was four and I got it from my Oma; it was a little while lily.
I brought my aquarium with me from home. I bought most of the fish here but I also have one beautiful blue one from Thailand. I bought it on the internet and had it delivered. The dirty water is very good fertilizer for my plants.
I didn't have any space in my suitcase for photos but I've got a lot on my computer. Here I am with my parents and my older brother at a party a couple of years ago.'

'I prefer Chinese food'
Yu Tong from China, studying Food Technology and living at the Dijkgraaf.
'When I first came into this room I thought it was fine but totally uninteresting. Then I painted my wall green - I hope Idealis won't have a problem with that. I painted the big green tree together with some friends. That gives me a spring feeling all year round.
I got the standard furniture from Idealis and the rest was left behind by friends when they went home. Like those colourful little Ikea chairs, for example. And the sofa, which was a real stroke of luck. I found it on the street, where someone had dumped it.
I live on a corridor with 18 others, most of them Dutch. They have taught me some Dutch but not all the words are suitable for general use, they tell me. People here eat together a lot, but I prefer Chinese good, especially rice. Last year I brought a big rice cooker back from China. My father insisted on my choosing a big one because you can also cook soup or vegetables in it and cook the rice separately. I had it in a backpack and when I squatted in the airport I toppled over backwards. My father laughed. 'You really do need the big one because you need to eat more rice', he said.

'The second-hand shop is our friend'
Indarwati Aminuddin from Indonesia, studying Leisure, Tourism and Environment and living in the Fire House on the Haarweg.
'When I moved in here I put some Indonesian money and rice in a visible place. Those are our good luck symbols and they gave me a feeling of being a true Indonesian. The university gave us a mug as a welcome present, and I put that somewhere straightaway with some pens in it, as a sign that my student life had begun. After all, that is why I am here.
I got the umbrellas from friends. They make the lighting more atmospheric - otherwise the tube lighting is so strong and cold. There are a lot of Indonesian students here who swap things and give each other things. I have already shipped four boxes home. Mainly books, because you can't easily get good books there. Most of the little things in my room I bought at Emmaus. That second-hand shop is our friend. Everything for 50 cents or one euro. I got hold of a Thai lamp and some things from Indonesia as well. That head is the symbol of Java.
The mosquito net above my bed looks exactly like the one I have at home. I have recreated the atmosphere there. That makes me feel more at home here.'

'I nicked beermats from the pub'
Evans Asamoah from Benin, studying International Land and Water Management and living at the Dijkgraaf.
'There is nothing special about this room; it doesn't have much atmosphere in itself. The furniture is from Idealis: a desk, two cupboards, a bed and a chair. That is enough for me and I have created the atmosphere with my own things. The most striking feature of my room is my collection of beer mats. I like beer and I just started saving them. I just hung one up, and then another couple, until it ended up the way it is now. Sometimes I nicked a couple from the pub, and I had to go to some trouble to get hold of the bigger ones. It's a cheap way of making a room your own.
That poster above the wash basin was the first thing I hung up when I moved in. I got it for nothing. I got the sombreros from friends, just like a lot of my things. The clog slippers, for instance, were a Sinterklaas present.
I bought that beautiful African picture of the woman lying down in Ede. I took the photos above the bed myself. Around a campfire on the banks of the Rhine we just started taking photos. I think they came out rather well, quite an artistic series.'